Sugar house spark ignites hillside fire

Richard Root of Green Mountain Turnpike was just finishing up sugaring for the season, cleaning and rinsing his equipment around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 7th,  when he noticed smoke. The hillside adjacent to his sugar house had caught fire – due to a stray spark from his smokestack.

According to Root, within 10 minutes, the Chester Fire Department was on the scene, followed by those from Ludlow, Rockingham, Springfield, Proctorsville and Charlestown, N.H. Cavendish covered the Chester station during the fire.

Chester Fire Chief Matt Wilson said there could not have been a worse time for a blaze. “There’s a fire school this weekend,” said Wilson, a rare educational experience in Vermont “so quite a few (firefighters) went including some of ours.”

“Every truck came with a couple of firefighters.” Wilson continued, “But nobody could send a full crew.”  Tankers lined Green Mountain Turnpike and refilled at the hydrant near the intersection of Elm and Pleasant streets.

The dry hillside caught fire and quickly spread. “When Harry (Goodell) and I got here the wind was cooking,” said Wilson. “You might as well throw gasoline on it.”

By 3:30 p.m., no flames were visible and crews were combing the site for hot spots. There was no damage to buildings and no injuries were reported.

— Shawn Cunningham

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